NCAA Basketball Pick: Quinnipiac Bobcats vs. Iona Gaels

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, January 24, 2014 5:00 AM GMT

Friday, Jan. 24, 2014 5:00 AM GMT

There is a very nice MAAC matchup available on ESPN3 when the Quinnipiac Bobcats and Iona Gaels both try to move into a first place tie with Canisius on Friday.

A share of first place in the MAAC for now is at stake Friday night when the Quinnipiac Bobcats (11-6, 3-5 away) pay a visit to the Iona Gaels (9-8, 6-2 home) at the Hynes Athletics Center in New Rochelle, NY at 7:00 ET in a game available on ESPN3.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Iona as a home favorite for this contest with the current line at -6 with odds of -120.

Quinnipiac made the jump to the MAAC this season from the smaller Northeast Conference, but the Bobcats are holding their own in their new league as part of the logjam atop the conference. Both Quinnipiac and their opponents tonight from Iona, as well as Manhattan, are 6-2 in MAAC play, one-half game behind 7-2 Canisius.

You may notice that the Bobcats are the only new conference member from that quartet, so Iona may be out to make a statement tonight for all of the mainstays of the conference, especially playing here at home where the Gaels are 6-2 and averaging 88.8 points per game while winning by an average of +10.0 points.

The Gaels did lose a key game here at home vs. their fellow conference incumbents from Canisius by two points 85-83 last Friday, which is the reason they trail the Golden Griffiths in the MAAC standings, but they seem quite capable of running the upstart Bobcats out of the building tonight. You see, the Gaels are 15th in the country with their 83.1 points per game overall while ranking 26th in tempo rating at 71.7 possessions per game.

But this is not a team that simply relies on tempo to score points as the Gaels are truly an excellent shooting team. Iona is ranked eighth in the entire nation in offensive efficiency and second in effective field goal percentage at 57.5 percent, thanks to shooting an outrageous 41.1 percent as a team from beyond the three-point arc (third in the country) and also hitting on 53.1 percent of its two-point shots (26th).

Furthermore, Iona was well-prepared for MAAC play as it faced a very good non-conference schedule that ranked 21st in the land in SOS.

Now, the Bobcats are a solid 11-6 overall, although it should be pointed out that their 5-4 non-conference record came vs. a less daunting schedule than Iona faced as it ranked 199th in non-conference SOS. The bigger issue here though is that Quinnipiac is ranked 201st in defensive efficiency, mainly because it is forcing the fewest turnovers of any of the 351 Division I teams at a mere 12.1 percent of opponents’ possessions vs. a national average of 18.5 percent!

That is a sign of a passive defense, as is the fact that the Bobcats are also 349th in steals, so we just do not see how they will slow the Gaels down, especially playing here in New Rochelle. Now, the Bobcats do rank a good 78th in offensive efficiency, but that is entirely because they are amazingly second in the country in offensive rebounding percentage, as they are not a good shooting team ranking a poor 328th in effective field goal percentage.

Yes, Quinnipiac could potentially dominate the glass in this game, but Iona could neutralize that by hitting a high percentage of its shots from all spots on the floor like it usually does, so we recommend giving the moderate spot with the Gaels at home on Friday while watching the game on your computer on ESPN3.

[gameodds]14/255754/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: Iona -6 (-120)

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